Reporters from the Cumhuriyet daily, Fox TV and the ANKA news agency, all critical of the Turkish government, were reportedly prevented from covering the Republic Day ceremony held at Anıtkabir in Ankara upon instructions from the Turkish presidency’s communications director Fahrettin Altun, sparking criticism from media associations, Turkish media reported on Friday.
The executive board of the Turkish Journalists’ Association (TGC) denounced the move in a statement, while Fox TV Editor-in-Chief Doğan Şentürk posted a protest on Twitter.
“Half of the media outlets including Fox TV were not allowed to cover the Republic Day ceremony at Anıtkabir! This move, unparalleled in our political history, which I have never experienced in my professional career spanning 35 years, is not only a violation of the Constitution, but also an eclipse of reason,” Şentürk tweeted.
In its statement the TGC indicated that no one has a monopoly on Republic Day, noting that the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) accreditation of reporters to cover specific events has evolved into censorship.
The TGC reminded that critical reporters have been prevented from covering newsworthy events, initially at the Prime Ministry and then at party congresses, ministry meetings, mosques, cemeteries and official ceremonies.
“The latest example of this is the prevention of our fellow reporters from covering the Republic Day ceremony at Anıtkabir,” the statement said, adding that the ruling AKP has discriminated among reporters.
The exclusion was also protested by the Turkish Journalists Union (TGS), which called on the government to halt its discriminatory practices.
“Our fellow reporters from Fox TV, the Cumhuriyet daily and the ANKA news agency who wanted to cover the ceremony at Anıtkabir were not allowed to enter upon instructions from the communications director. This is not a matter of accreditation but censorship. Stop discrimination and do not violate the public’s right to information,” the TGS tweeted.
Erol Önderoğlu, the Turkey representative for Reporters without Borders (RSF), referred to the incident as discriminatory accreditation.
“RSF Representative Erol Önderoğlu: It is very sad that discriminatory accreditation targeted media outlets like Fox TV, the Cumhuriyet daily and the ANKA news agency during the Republic Day ceremony. Those who ordered that those reporters not be allowed to enter Anıtkabir have spurned media freedoms once again,” RSF Turkish tweeted.